Speaking of sponsors, you have stuck with most of yours for a really long time. Are they that good, or are you just really loyal? I think it’s a bit of both. I grew up riding Hyperlite, so to be part of it in the beginning was an honor. I’ve stayed with them because I believe in what they are trying to do, what they are trying to build and the people who are there. But, I will say it’s a bit of both.
With any relationship, personal or business, there are always bumps in the road but you grow with one another and learn from one another and move on. Is that something you and your sponsors have done? For sure. I think some of my strongest relationships are with the guys I have had it out with the most. At Hyperlite, I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Tom Curtin and Greg Nelson, and I feel like I have a really good relationship with those guys because of that. I’ve had some of the most difficult conversations of my life with Greg Nelson, but we have a good relationship because of that. At Nautique, I’ve gone through some gnarly discussions and head-butted with Bryan Sullivan, but I feel like I have a good relationship because of that. So yeah, there are fights within families.
Do you ever see yourself working for the Pro Tour? Doing what?
Would you consider judging when you retire? I don’t think so.
You don’t want to give back? Don’t say it like that.
Don’t you think the system will improve from guys who have been through it? For one, judging is gnarly. I’ve done some amateur stuff, even a couple of pro rounds. I don’t like that stress. I’ve lost a lot of hair. I’m getting a lot of grays, and I don’t need to create more. The other thing is, I like interacting with people. I know you have a great time out on the boat, but I like getting out to meet people on the shore who I normally wouldn’t get to interact with. I would love to be able to just go and do exhibition rides. But would I work for the Tour? Yeah, if there’s a way I could do something. It would be weird not to. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.
Often people who are really good at something have a tough time teaching it. How have you managed to be both a top-level rider and a top-level wake coach? I like teaching no matter what I’m doing. Whether it’s showing someone how to throw a Frisbee or play a guitar cord. Whatever it is, I like to teach. I like to show people how to open a banana properly. If you ever meet me, ask me. I say “properly” because there is a wrong way.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your riding past and present? When you say influence, I think of what motivates me to try stuff. Danny Harf has been a big motivator, as far as things I see out on the water. Obviously, I’m not going to emulate Danny’s style. I’m gonna look like me, and he’s gonna look like him, but I like to look toward him. Keith Lyman has always been a big motivator. Rusty’s drive to be on the water is a motivator. Josh Palma’s technical side, his ability to break tricks down, is another one. I’d say you have been a big motivator because I like to perform well, whether it’s at the camp or in a contest. I like to have a good performance, so I always like to do well when you’re driving.
How old do you think you will be when you throw your last raley? I have always envisioned you as the crazy granddad wakeboarding. I’ve thought about that in the last year. Is it going to be like 60? Raley to tumble turn, easily into my 50s, as long as there’s no big accident or something or I die. I’m gonna draw that thing out as long as I can.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career? I have no idea. That I’ve been able to wakeboard for a living.
Any real disappointments? Wow, a disappointment. If you think back to the times when you’re just bummed, it’s usually a contest result. But the point is, I can’t even think of a specific instance. I say to all these kids who get so hung up on a contest performance that it doesn’t matter.
What are your top three most memorable moments? Giving my dad the keys to a truck when I won the Van Triple Crown; in 2003 when I was riding a bike in a parking lot of a sporting goods store in California and you called and asked if I wanted to start a wakeboard camp; and getting married to Kerri. I can’t just have three, though, because my daughters being born has to be one too.
How has having a family changed you, both as a rider and on your overall outlook? Having a family just brings perspective to what’s important and what’s not important. The biggest change for me is that I went from being busy to being really busy.
You have a lot of irons in the fire. How do you manage all of that? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by my schedule if I sit back and look at a year, a month or even a week. I just gotta do the best as I can every day and realize it’s gonna work itself out. Every now and then I get in a sticky situation, but I just do the best I can, one day at a time. But with a really understanding guy like Travis Moye, it makes it that much easier.
Does it make you sad that everyone you work with at The Boarding School has a luxurious head of hair? Would I like to pull my hair back in a ponytail? Sure I would. But I realize that’s not in the cards, so I just have to deal with what I’ve been dealt. But, yeah, I’ve noticed. I’ve noticed.
There are days at the camp when you will crop-dust the boat all day with stinky farts. Do you have no conscience? It’s kinda like when you’re on the airplane and you smell someone farted but you don’t know who did. You look around and think there are about five people it could be, but you don’t know who did it. You could think it’s me or you could think it’s someone else. Do I have a conscience? Yes, but some days I’ll get up and go coach from the back.